VET’S DIARY: Power cut dogs evening on canine osteoarthritis

LAST week saw a new adventure for the small animal division of Alnorthumbria Vets with the first of what will hopefully become a regular series of client evening meetings, writes Dominic Plumley.

Over the years, the farm and equine teams have become very good at organising such presentations that are both entertaining and informative and these are always extremely well supported.

The social network surrounding both the agricultural and horsey communities is well established and these meetings often double as a good opportunity to get together and have a chinwag about what’s moving and shaking.

On the pet front, the sheer number of clients has always left us scratching our heads about how best to organise such events – never sure whether, with a general invite, we would get two folk or 200!

As it was, our inaugural meeting on the subject of canine osteoarthritis, attracted just over 40 people who were well entertained by vets Edwina Gildea from Pfizer Animal Health and our very own David Young and Simon Capel.

Unfortunately, things didn’t get off to the best of starts as some over-zealous road works had left our venue, the rugby club in Alnwick without power.

Having spent days carefully preparing his computer power point presentation, Simon was left sweating, wondering whether his efforts had all been in vain.

On the upside, in spite of the technical problems, the candles provided a very atmospheric ambience and spirits remained high.

A quick dash to the Wagonway Road surgery was highly productive and the two farm battery packs used for remote ultrasound scanning soon provided enough power to get computer and projector up and running.

Edwina enlightened everyone about the painful details of osteoarthritis – how either congenital joint malformation, injury or just being overweight causes abnormal wear and tear to the cartilage surfaces of the articular joints. This in turn sets up an inflammatory vicious cycle that exacerbates the damage and more significantly causes the suffering dog to experience continuous pain.

She emphasised how important it is to break this cycle by getting patients mobile again using a combination of anti-inflammatory and analgesic medicines and managing any weight problems.

Simon went on to talk about looking after osteoarthritic dogs after the initial diagnosis has been made.

It is a common misconception that these patients just start taking medicines and that is the whole story for the rest of their days.

In fact, there are a plethora of different treatment options, including adjunctive therapies such as hydrotherapy and acupuncture that can be dovetailed to meet the needs of every patient.

He also picked up on a point made by Edwina that osteoarthritis is a progressive disease and every patient’s requirements will change as time passes by – making regular assessment and monitoring of such cases vital to ensure that they are receiving the exact care that they need.

There was a moment’s panic when the alarm on the battery pack sounded to warn that it was about to fail – fortunately the day was saved when almost simultaneously the lights came on indicating power had been restored. Simon’s relief was instantly balanced by the disappointment of the Alnwick 1st and 2nd XVs who no longer had an excuse to skip training on the pitch outside as the flood lights burst into life.

David finished proceedings – chairing a lively question and answer session. Like the true romantic he is – he continued with the house lights off and the candles flickering to end the meeting as it started. We plan to hold another meeting in November in Morpeth for our southern-based clients – details to follow.